Maybe you can clean something up for me. Van Dorn was able to rangle his appointment as Commander of the Tran-Mississippi Department from his friend Jefferson Davis and took command of this department in January 1862.
Now what was the status of the Trans-Mississippi Department at that time? Was it a seperate command or was it under the authority of Sidney Johnston's Department of the West?
I realize that both Johnston and Beauregard were senior to Van Dorn in seniority of rank, But, why, or by what authority was Beauregard, who was second in command to Johnston, directing the movements of a Department commander? Especially when neither Beauregard or Johnston was in Van Dorn's theater of operations, but in their own theater conducting their own operations.
I realize that Beauregard and Johnston issued those orders for Van Dorn to cooperate with them in combating the greater enemy. But Lee didn't feel like he had that authority to order Bragg to abandon his theater and help fight the greater enemy in Virginia. In fact I believe that it was Davis that had Lee send Longstreet to Bragg.
So it would seem that Van Dorn's obeying his superiors (Johnston's) orders was in fact abandoning his command and possibly being remiss in his duties to his theater of operations.
And in fact that is what caused Governor Rector to protest Van Dorn's move. Here again Davis did not order Van Dorn to return to Arkansas instead he sent two gunboats (the Ponchartrain and Maurepas) possibly as Gunboat deplomacy, to keep Rector in line and Arkansas in the Confederacy.
I have often wondered if this wasn't some sort of a plot by Davis, Van Dorn, and others to intentionally abandon the three western states bring these western troops east for the war there. And why Van Dorn took everything, that had military value, he could lay his hands, on across the Mississippi.